Machining is a precise process using rotary cutters to remove material by advancing a cutter into a workpiece. It involves controlling cutter direction, speed, and pressure on multiple axes. This versatile method spans various operations and machines, from crafting small individual parts to managing extensive gang machining tasks. Commonly used for crafting custom parts with exact tolerances, machining employs a range of machine tools. The primary tool is the milling machine, often called a mill. The advent of computer numerical control (CNC) technology transformed these machines into machining centers, equipped with automatic tool changers, CNC capabilities, coolant systems, and enclosures. These centers are categorized as vertical machining centers (VMCs) or horizontal machining centers (HMCs). The integration of machining and turning created multitasking machines (MTMs), tailored for both operations within a single workspace.
Choose the appropriate material, often metal or plastic, based on the part's requirements.
Secure the workpiece in the machine's work holding device, ensuring it's stable and properly aligned.
Select the appropriate cutting tool (e.g., end mill, drill bit) based on the specific machining operation.
Install and secure the chosen cutting tool in the machine's spindle.
Create a machining program that specifies toolpaths, speeds, feeds, and other parameters. This can be done manually or using computer numerical control (CNC) for precision.
- Cutting: The machine advances the cutting tool into the workpiece, removing material to achieve the desired shape.
- Drilling: For creating holes or openings.
- Turning: Rotating the workpiece against a fixed cutting tool (typically in a lathe) to create cylindrical shapes.
- Milling: Moving the cutting tool in various directions to remove material and shape the workpiece.